Friday, September 21, 2012

Update on my Grandmother

I know many of you sweet friends and family have been asking how my grandmother is doing since her accident.  Here's an update:

As you know she fell last Saturday and was found 12+ hours later by my parents, covered in blood.  Her head wound was not worth stitches but she does still have a half dollar-sized bruise on her head.  They ran tests to figure out why she fell and determined she has double pneumonia.  She has been on and off oxygen, some days needing to rest between bites of lunch or dinner.  The nurse at the hospital said it takes her an hour to catch her breath after a trip to the restroom.  Luckily she is responding to meds and her breathing seems to be getting better, not perfect, but better.  We'll take it!

She was moved Wednesday to a rehab facility (read: nursing home with rehab in house) in Austin to be closer to my mom.  Of course this place looks like a nursing home and I just don't like seeing her in this setting.  Unfortunately, once rehab is complete, she will likely NOT be returning home.  Ideally we'd move her to assisted living, but it is cost prohibitive.  The doctors have said several times that her recovery is all up to HER.  My grandmother suffers from daily headaches which seem to sideline her a lot of the time.  This, plus her endearing stubbornness could possibly make it difficult for the physical therapists to get her to work.  She said today that she is a fighter (she had a wonderful attitude and fought through a bout with breast cancer in the 80s), so I hope she shows us what we know she's made of!  Unfortunately, her moderate dementia makes it hard for her to remember exactly WHY she needs to work hard.  She can't see the big picture.

She did ask today how long she would be at this place.  We haven't exactly told her much about our plans after rehab.  (Most likely nursing home, even though I don't think she is quite there yet, but living alone is just not an option).  We told her at least a month.  She asked if we moved her out of her house. UGH.  Broke my heart.  We told her no (and we will NOT be doing so without her knowledge), but that it may be something we need to talk about.  Her response: "whatever my family thinks is best for me."

Speaking of dementia, she had quickly declined in the weeks before her fall.  We didn't think she'd know us by Christmas.  My mom would call to remind her to take her medicine at 9 am.  Then she'd call back an hour or so later to find out she still had not taken her meds.  My mom would remind her again and my grandma would say "I'm going right now to take them."  This would go on and on, also being reminded to eat breakfast, then lunch once breakfast came and went.  By 4 pm, her morning meds were still not taken, and she had not eaten anything all day.  All she had done was sleep in her chair because of a headache (and come to find out, pneumonia).  I'm telling you all of this because there is some good news here!  Infections greatly affect the elderly and their memory.  Having pneumonia explains A LOT about the way she had been acting.  As her pneumonia is getting more and more under control, her old self is coming back.  She will never have her mind fully back, but it is at least back to where it was before she started sliding quickly downhill (most likely from when the pneumonia set in).  Today I visited her and we looked at pictures of a bunch of family members.  Ones she couldn't recognize back in July were blurted quickly out of her mouth!!!!  THIS is the Numna we know!  I even asked her what city she was in (certain that she would be so confused being confined to a hospital and now a rehab) and she immediately knew she was now in Austin.  She couldn't remember that a few weeks ago when she was here for a visit.

So we have made some progress.  She is still weaker than she was and short of breath, so she isn't walking much right now.  She is WAY more alert than every other person I saw at the facility today.  She hardly looks like she belongs there.  We ordered her a trip to the in-house salon to get her hair fixed, and a mani/pedi!  She said "OH BOY, I may never want to leave!"  See, good attitude!  Our hope is that she comes out of this stronger than she was BEFORE pneumonia set in, and that we strike oil (literally and figuratively) so we can get her into assisted living once rehab is done.

She is turning 90 on WEDNESDAY, so we have a surprise party planned for her next Saturday.  It'll be a grand time celebrating her!

Thank you all for your kind words, prayers, and daily concern with how she is doing.  It really means a LOT to us!!!